Hotels and motels across the country are very complicated operations with a lot of services and departments doing a lot of different tasks simultaneously. From customer service, to housekeeping, to operations, to landscaping/maintenance and finally to food service, all of these tasks are vital to the overall success of that property. None may be more important to the overall “greening up” of the hotel than the food service operation, and in some cases, the effort to make the food service operation greener, can have positive effects on some of the other areas as well.
The preparation and serving of meals to diners in restaurants, banquet rooms and in-room meal service generates a lot of waste. From the food scraps, to the waste water that needs to be disposed of after cleaning dishes, the elimination of some or all of the waste and the decrease in water usage can go a long way to helping our environment and putting fewer demands for landfill space on the local community.
One of the easiest ways to eliminate a huge amount of the waste that goes into landfills is to implement a composting program, either at the hotel with space permitting, or with a commercial composting facility. It has been reported in many recent studies that as much as 30-40% of the waste that goes into landfills is compostable, meaning that if it were composted commercially, it could be used in landscaping or farming, and not take up space in a landfill. Most of the food scraps that are produced in the kitchen are compostable. In addition to the food scraps, the introduction of disposable tableware, specifically compostable tableware, made from a material like sugar cane (bagasse) or bamboo can eliminate the need for foam plates and trays and will reduce the amount of water that is needed to clean china or ceramic plates. Now we all realize that you cannot substitute compostable tableware for fine china in a nice steakhouse or other similar dining room, but you can use the eco-friendly tableware for breakfast buffets, coffee bars, meetings, poolside service and more.
If the hotel property chooses to compost the waste itself, it can utilize the compost material in its own landscaping practices, which help to reduce the hotel’s overall need for water since compost helps the soil retain water naturally. If a commercial facility does the composting, it can sell that compost back to the hotel or to the community for their use. In some cases the waste can be composted by a local farmer who can use it to feed the crops that it might be growing for the same hotel.
So, let’s all look for ways to minimize the waste that gets put into our local landfills, and figure out ways to make our lives more sustainable, like using annually renewable materials like sugar cane and bamboo for disposable tableware items and composting the food waste from hotels, restaurants and schools to reduce the need for future landfill space in our communities.